2023 Hawai‘i College Guide: A Local Kid’s Guide to Surviving College

Tips to stay on top of academics, money and more.


Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images

Illustration: Getty Images


Scheduling Classes


1. Meet with your adviser every semester. The saying “five to graduate” is real. Before choosing your classes, make sure that you meet with your adviser so they can help you build a schedule that will allow you to graduate within four years.


2. Before signing up for classes, check ratemyprofessors.com. Professors can often make or break a class and your GPA, so it is helpful to see what previous students have had to say.


3. Take your general education courses first. It is not uncommon for students to change majors throughout college. However, the last thing you want to do is lose money while doing that. To give yourself time to figure out what you are passionate about, fulfill your general education requirements first.


4. Remember to check not just the times, but also locations. If you have back-to-back classes across campus from each other, will you make it? And remember, Hawai‘i kid, if snow is involved, it could take you longer to get there.


5. Interested in studying abroad? It might be difficult to find classes that meet your major requirements abroad, so save some of your core requirements to take abroad instead. It might be best to study abroad in your sophomore year so that you get acquainted with college life before switching to another new campus.



Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images 2

Illustration: Getty Images


Getting Around


  • Research public transportation. Bus or metro passes are often included in a university’s student fees.


  • Split rides with friends. Riding by yourself in an Uber or Lyft can be expensive and sometimes sketchy, so travel in groups.


  • Search areas near your school for free parking. Parking on campus might be convenient, but it can be costly, so if you’re commuting from far away, drive to areas like mall parking lots or safe neighborhoods nearby. Just be sure to give yourself enough time to go the rest of the way.


  • Depending on the size of your school, you may want to invest in a bike or skateboard to shave off minutes when getting from one class to the next.



Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images 3

Illustration: Getty Images

Working Part-Time


  • Search the school’s job database. Campus jobs usually hire for the next year or semester, so more crop up near the end of term.


  • Check your emails regularly. Your school will send you emails regarding exclusive internship and job opportunities, so make sure to check them and apply to all your desired positions.


  • Look for “help wanted” signs on and off campus. Go on a walk downtown and keep your eye out around campus. Some jobs might not be posted online.


  • Walk into places where you want to work and ask if they’re hiring. Bring your résumé and leave it with them in case of an opening.


  • If all else fails, the dining hall is usually an easy place to get hired as a student.



Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images 6

Illustration: Getty Images

Gearing Up


1. If you’re heading someplace cold, it’s best to buy winter jackets there to save money and space in your suitcase. Plus you can see what the others kids are wearing.


2. In many places, it will get dark around 4 p.m. during the winter. So consider buying a sun lamp to fight those dark afternoons and seasonal depression.


3. Be the cool kid from Hawai‘i with all the ‘ono Hawai‘i snacks—Spam, furikake popcorn, li hing mui sour belts—and a rice cooker. Spread da aloha.


4. If you’re lucky you’ll get a twin XL in your dorm, but most likely you’ll be stuck with a twin bed. Either way, college dorm beds are not comfortable. A mattress pad, however, is an easy fix.


5. Buy an extension cord. Your dorm will most likely be small with one outlet.


6. Depending on your dorm regulations, consider purchasing a microwave and air fryer. This way you can save money by making your own food and ditch the unhealthy options of eating out.



Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images 4

Illustration: Getty Images

Money Tips


Download an app such as Venmo or Cash App. Every time you go out to eat with friends, come across a campus fundraiser or just need to pay your roommate for toilet paper, various apps and some banks let you do it instantly, so you can request and send money from a bank account. Also, Unidays is a website that allows college students to get exclusive discounts on subscriptions, clothes, technology and more. Be sure to sign up with your college email to save some coin. myunidays.com



Cg Local Kids Guide Getty Images 5

Illustration: Getty Images

Buying Books


  • Don’t go to the campus bookstore first! While it’ll be your No. 1 resource for school swag, the books are almost always pricier there.


  • To clarify what books will be used in your class, contact your professor. Email them before the class starts so you have enough time for your books to come in.


  • BookFinder.com is an incredible online resource—it compares prices of new and used books from more than 100,000 sellers, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal.


  • Buying used textbooks is cheaper; plus you may find useful notes to help you ace the test. (Think of it as a free personal tutor.)


  • Check Amazon for textbook rentals. Anyone with a school email address can start an Amazon Prime Student account for half the usual membership price, which comes with free two-day shipping and access to free movies and music. (Amazon also offers a six-month free trial.)


Return to main page